Wildflower walks begin March 6, 2016, along the South Yuba River

When spring arrives in the Nevada County CA foothills, there is no better way to welcome its arrival than with a walk among the beautiful wildflowers at South Yuba River State Park.

State Park docents will lead guided wildflower walks every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning on Sunday, March 6, and continuing through at least Mother’s Day, May 8. Depending on how the flowers are doing, the wildflower walks may go to mid-May.

The Buttermilk Bend Trail, which winds above the wild and scenic South Yuba River, is famous for the many species that bloom on its hills and slopes. Each season, observers are delighted with an ever changing tableau of spring color.

Early season visitors will find Western Buttercups, Larkspur and Shooting Stars. By mid-season, the hills turn gold and purple with Tufted Poppies and Narrow Leaf Lupine. Mid-to-late season is a special treat as Fairy Lanterns, Chinese Houses and Bird’s Eye Gilla reveal themselves.

Mid-to-late season, it also is a special treat to find the California Dutchman’s Pipe and learn about its unique symbolic relationship with the pipevine swallowtail butterfly. Docents will point out these and many more species and points of interest along the trail.

Guided hikes last about two hours along the Buttermilk Bend trail, an easy 2.5 mile roundtrip hike. Meet at the trailhead in the north parking lot, just past the concrete bridge that crosses the South Yuba River on Pleasant Valley Road in Penn Valley. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended along with a hat and sunscreen, and remember to bring water. A $3 donation is requested and appreciated.

(Dogs are not permitted on the guided walks as the trail is narrow and the groups can be large). To make your visit complete, allow extra time to visit the park Visitor Center, see the covered bridge (currently under restoration) and barn (both built in 1862) and the restored 1920s gas station.

The Visitor Center is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. There you will find a collection of wildflower books, nature and history displays and many other educational and gift items. Because of dry weather conditions, the wildflower season may be full of mystery and surprises.

For more information throughout the short season, call the park at 530-432-2546 or visit here. Rain will cancel walks.

Text and photos by South Yuba River State Park Association

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